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Can't buy me love (for under $120)

Valentine's Day spending to top $17 billion, according to retail group. Average consumer to spend nearly $123.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Valentine's Day spending is expected to top $17 billion in 2008, according to the National Retail Foundation.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Unlike housing prices and interest rates, Cupid's costs are expected to go up in 2008.

According to a study issued Monday by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average consumer plans to spend $122.98 on Valentine's Day, up from $119.67 in 2007. Total retail spending for the Feb. 14 holiday is expected to reach $17.02 billion.

Of the 61 percent of consumers who plan on celebrating Valentine's Day this year, the NRF said nine of ten will spend the most on their significant others or spouses. But other loved ones will not go forgotten: six in ten plan to buy something for their family members, and two in ten said they would send a gift to friends.

This year, over 48% of love birds plan to celebrate the day by taking their significant others for a special night out, up from 45% in 2007, the NRF said.

But the federation said other traditional Valentine's Day presents will remain popular too, with nearly 48% of consumers planning on purchasing candy, 36% with expectations of buying flowers, and 17% who said they would buy their special someone jewelry.

Of course, it is important that the recipient knows who his or her special admirer is - 57% of those surveyed plan on buying a card for their Valentine, the NRF said.

"Valentine's Day is a great time to get creative with gift options," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. "Most people agree that it's the thought that counts, but shelves will also be filled with traditional gifts for those who want to celebrate the old-fashioned way."

Men will outspend women this year, spending an average of $163.37 on gifts and cards, compared to an average of $84.72 spent by women, according to the NRF. To top of page

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